Yeah!:
Books:
Cruising Cuisine by Kay Pastorius is the one cruising cookbook that I can fully
recommend. I bought them all - not kidding. However, I found none had really
good recipes. I have given away all my other cruising cookbooks and kept this
one.
An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof is a respite from more
alarming accounts of cruising passages. You know how women who have babies
LOVE to tell horror stories to soon to be Moms? (Its a particularly twisted human
tendency, with the kindest of intentions. Well, a lot of sea-tales seem to be that, a
lot of drama. An Embarrassment of mangoes is a kinder, gentler book. No hysterics,
no drama - simply a lovely sojourn, some exciting moments, some everyday
moments. Oh, it also has yummy recipes, try the Pulau.
Companies or
Products:
The people at Plastimo have been terribly helpful in the search for flyscreens for
no longer produced Goiot portlights and hatches. The customer service people
always called or emailed back, measured everything, and even gave me their
own, personal work numbers.
Silicone bakeware is simply wonderful. Food doesn't stick to it and it doesn't rust
or rattle
. This lovely little line comes in a variety of forms; I have found muffin molds,
square bake pans, bread pans, cake pans and bundt pans. They are not terribly
expensive - about $14 a piece. Look at Ace hardware stores or Bed, Bath and Beyond.
I've found that my recipes bake faster in these pans so I reduce the oven temperature
by about 25 degrees and check for doneness about 5 minutes earlier.
Oh, did I mention
NO RUST??
MRX Morse software has helped me to learn Morse code, which, at present you
need in order to get your General HAM license which allows you free email through
the SSB.
The software is free. There is a 30 day trial after which the more advanced features
no longer work, but, the lessons and training do. Their home page is at
http://www.mrx.com.au/
Downwind Marine in San Diego are extremely helpful towards cruisers. They go out
of their way to provide up-to-date relevant information to the cruising community. Not
only do they provide mail service and parts deliveries to out of the way places, but, they
provide a handy pamphlet with SSB and HAM net , official forms and marine service
information for cruising Mexico and, to some extent, the South Pacific. They provide a
welcome respite from the West Marine monopoly (who, by the way, also own Boat US).
Boo:
Companies or
Products:
Morningstar Sunsaver 20 solar regulators
This is a bit of a long story about a unit that has the potential to burn down your boat...

Jen was on the boat alone and on crutches. She had just started to bake some
brownies. Luckily on our boat you can cook sitting down. As soon as she turned on
the oven, a horrible stench filled the air. Now, despite her occasional cooking failures,
rarely do we have actual noxious fumes as a result. By the time she realized that her
cooking had not, in fact, been the culprit she hopped (remember one foot has failed
to proceed) around to see smoke pouring out of the starboard hull. Now hopping
furiously she attempts to get a fire extinguisher, investigate the fire and not bust all
her stitches. Quickly realizing the futility of hopping in a mad circle, she calls on the
VHF to neighboring cruisers who come to the rescue.

The culprit was a Sunsaver 20 solar regulator that decided to roast its own
marshmallows, as it were. It did this, mind you, without having the fuse blow. As a
result, the boat filled with smoke and scorch marks were left on the hull.

The previous owner had the same brand and style unit fail just before Richard bought
the boat. The black marks on the hull were still visible.  Richard thought by putting all
new wiring and a fuse between the solar panels and the regulator on the newly
installed unit future flaming disaster would be prevented.  Instead the new unit burned
up where the battery wires attach to it.  Richard believes it was an internal short that
caused  the battery wires to be connected causing them to fry.

The unit was properly installed with all new wiring, connectors, fuse, etc.  Richard
eventually got an email from the president of the company that said they provide a
quality product with a low failure rate and it was his fault for allowing a loose
connection.  He also said no units have ever burned.  Oddly enough, Richard just
talked to another cruising boat with the exact same unit and theirs burned as well.
Last time I checked, mathematically speaking,  three burned units is greater than
none.

Anyway we feel this unit is unsafe and will not have another on the boat.  The
company is making it nearly impossible to get a refund (not happy about this let alone
the fire).  Richard bought a BP charge controller to replace it and we will see how this
one works.

Upon installation Richard added a fuse on the battery side of the unit.  This is a major
safety item.  Morningstar does not show a fuse on either side of the unit in their
installation instructions.  Our other solar controller (has worked fine for 1.5 years)
specs a fuse on both sides.
West Marine LED Dome Lights, about half of the 8 we installed have failed.
They are expensive and unreliable. In addition, we have found  their blueish
light rather depressing. We plan on replacing all with a more yellow, brighter
light.  So we got the xenon ones instead and the switches are failing now!  Buy
quality lights from somewhere else if you can.
West Marine, San Diego: Throughout our trip we have found every single
West Marine on the California coast to be extremely helpful except the one in
San Diego. West Marine employees get, as a perk, an employee discount.
Richard, at the time, was West Marine employee. The staff at the San Diego
When it came time to pay he refused to accept the employee discount saying he
second class citizens and thieves. I have to say that never in my entire life have
I felt so totally abused and humiliated. We went so far as to have Richard's boss
call West Marine corporate to make sure that we had done nothing wrong and
that we properly understood the terms of the discount. We were assured that we
were in the right. However, it is a manager's right to refuse a discount to anyone
they see fit. I suppose old Mick wasn't making enough profit that month and took
it out on us. Get this, now he is district manager of Southern California's West
Marine stores. I shiver at the thought of his customer service policies.
Stuff We Like,
Stuff We Don't Like
Technautics Inc. "CoolBlue freezer unit"  This unit has never worked right
and according to the person I had to hire in New Zealand to fix a brand new
unit that should have been under warranty still it is too small of a compressor
for the holding plate that was sold with it.  I consulted with Technautics on the
original design of my freezer box and ended up making a slightly smaller one
than they said I could do.  I even used the vacuum sealed panels at a huge
cost to do to make this thing very energy efficient.  The unit failed mid ocean
costing us a huge amount of frozen meat tossed overboard and an even
greater cost of having to buy meat in Tahiti, which must be the most expensive
place in the pacific to provision!  Anyway when we got to New Zealand the
company would not return emails, only answered the phone once, refused to
pay me back for the guy I had to hire to find the problem with this new unit (bad
seal so it has been leaking coolant since the day it was installed), would not
answer the complaint I filed with the Better Business Bureau, etc.  This
company basically sucks to do business with so beware.
almost 7 years and just can't recommend them to anyone.  As an american boat there
are few insurance options, but try hard to find someone else.  I have spent the last
month trying to get my policy renewed with the proper cruising areas and correct total
cost and finally they get it to me the day before we jump to the Galapagos!  Why did I
email them over a month ago with my cruising itinerary, have to call multiple times and
send tons of emails?  Their service is a joke.  I just  hope I never need to make a
claim!
Columbia or Teva special water sandals: Just save your money and don't bother.  
Both of them are constructed with two and three layer soles glued together with glue
that can't take heat or saltwater!  Yes my latest columbia ones failed in 2 months,
while Teva usually make it a bit longer.  You can buy many pairs of cheap no name
sandals that might last as long and certainly cost a fraction of one pair of the "big"
name ones.  Columbia offered to replace mine if I sent them in from panama and of
course they would only mail the new ones to the US mainland!

I have had 3 sails made by UK sails San Francisco and the last one was
the worst.  The first two had issues with uv damamage destroying the
threads (yes they use the cheapest thread possible) on all three corners
of the jib so the webbing straps all ripped out.

So on my latest jib I had them put sunbrella over all the webbing straps
and voila no more uv issues.  Instead they use a tiny ring in the clew and
my jib sheets chafe through the straps!  At first they said I was in too high
of winds, next they said I should use smaller jib sheets, then they refuse
to answer.  So a mere 500 buck later in repairs they won't stand behind
their product so don't use them.  A few bucks saved on a ring for a boat
under 30 feet put in a genoa for a 44 foot cat and this is the diagnosis by
a aussie sail loft owner!